Hubbard takes look at lunch

HUBBARD – Hubbard Schools are in talks with parents who want to make healthier options available for students.

During its regular meeting Monday, a handful of parents addressed the Board of Education about some alternatives to current lunch offerings.

“There’s a lot of repetition; there’s not a big variety. One of the lunch options is mac n’ cheese and everybody loves mac n’ cheese, but let’s be honest, it’s very high in fat. It’s not one of the best choices, and for that to be the main choice, it’s not very desirable,” said Tamara Flower, who attended Monday’s meeting.

Superintendent Richard Buchenic said the district follows the federal guidelines on what they serve to students.

Tuesday, the Obama administration announced new rules prohibiting the promotion of sugary drinks and junk foods around schools and campuses. Even the scoreboards in high school gyms will have to adhere to the rules by advertising only healthy foods.

“The idea here is simple – our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren’t bombarded with ads for junk food,” the first lady Michelle Obama said. Mrs. Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new rules as part of her Let’s Move initiative to combat child obesity. “Because when parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn’t be undone by unhealthy messages at school.”

The rules also would allow more children access to free lunches and ensure that schools have wellness policies in place.

Aside from macaroni and cheese, items on Hubbard’s monthly menu include cheese burgers, chicken sandwiches, pizza, mini corn dogs, pasta, hot dogs, romaine chicken salads, tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken nuggets, with side items such as tater tots, salads, fresh fruit, green beans, applesauce and refried beans.

Flower, who has two children who attend school in Hubbard, said she’d like to see healthier choices such as grilled chicken patties and yogurt available.

“If they just make the change to use the grilled patties as opposed to the breaded, they’ve already improved the nutrition by a considerable amount,” she said.

Buchenic said the school takes part in Ohio’s Farm to School Program to bring locally grown food into the schools and is working on bringing in more locally grown fruits and vegetables for students.

“We did bring in some apples and some vegetables that were grown in Ohio … and we are looking into some ways to make things better for the students,” he said.

Food Service Supervisor Sam Mantas said he is open to any suggestions parents may have about changes to school lunch offerings in Hubbard.

“I haven’t received all of their complaints or issues to address them yet. We’ll get together and we’ll discuss it as a group and see what we can come up with,” he said.

Mantas said fresh fruit is available at least two to three times a week as part of the Farm to School Initiative.

Another concern parents raised involved potential food waste by students who may not like some food choices.

“If a student doesn’t want to eat the fruit or vegetable, I can’t force them to, but I still have to offer it. I hope they don’t waste it; I hope they would give it to one of their friends to eat and not just throw it away,” Mantas said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.